Having a Merry Mitchum
Whilst its over 60 years old "Holiday Affair" reminds me of a modern made for TV Christmas movie, not so much in story or style but for the simple fact that with it being set at Christmas blurs your vision to various issues. Basically what I'm on about is the storyline sees a young woman torn between her boyfriend of two years who wants to marry her and the charming young man she has just met and it is not in the least bit original. And this not so original story which wants to be a bit of an old fashioned screwball comedy lacks the sharpness to make the humour come to life. But because "Holiday Affair" is a Christmas movie full of cuteness and charm and a young boy who is ever so sweet the issues tend to fade away.
Comparison shopper Connie Ennis (Janet Leigh - Master of Lassie) accidentally gets Crowley Department store employee Steve Mason (Robert Mitchum - Rachel and the Stranger) fired when he catches on to what she is but doesn't report her. It leads to them first having lunch together in Central Park and then spending the afternoon together where Connie enjoys the charming Steve's easy going nature. The trouble is that whilst Connie likes Steve and so does her son Timmy (Gordon Gebert) when he turns up at her place, Connie is already dating the safe but sure Carl Davis (Wendell Corey) who not only wants to marry her but feels threatened by Steve.
So as already mentioned the basic storyline to "Holiday Affair" is the familiar one of a woman torn between two men, a storyline which is even now still being used in romantic comedies. We have an extra element to this one with Connie being a widow with a son called Timmy who is not overly keen on Carl but even then it's not an unusual added element. The thing is that this should be all about the fun of Connie torn between the safe and the sexy or at least the very smooth Steve but it never really sparks into life. It's all very nice as Connie has fun with Steve in the park and amusing when later on in the movie he ends up arrested and Connie tries to explain to the Police what happened, but it doesn't fizz like some 1940's comedies do.
Now if "Holiday Affair" had been a movie set at any other time of the year it would mean it would be quite forgettable but thankfully with it being set at Christmas it adds to the charm. The fun opening scene with a toy train which we watch in the toy store makes you smile as does watching how Steve is with the young children in the toy department. That cuteness continues when we have Steve and Timmy together and throw in a Christmas tree and snow in Central Park and the various issues begin to melt away. It doesn't stop it from feeling only average but it does mean it is a nice nostalgic Christmas movie.
Much of why "Holiday Affair" works is down to Robert Mitchum as Steve because he delivers laid back so brilliantly especially in the scenes he shares with various children. Basically if any single mum was looking for a prospective husband then Steve is the ideal man, kind, patient and frankly sexy. In fact Mitchum is so good as Steve that whilst Janet Leigh as Connie grabs your attention with her figure hugging clothes she ends up over shadowed by him. And so to be honest does Wendell Corey as Carl with only young Gordon Gebert as Timmy stealing some of Mitchum's limelight.
What this all boils down to is that "Holiday Affair" is a bit of nostalgic Christmas fun which if your are a fan of old movies you will enjoy. But it is very much the fact that it is a Christmas movie which makes it work as the basic romantic love triangle storyline is a bit ordinary.
Tags: Christmas Movies